Growing up I witnessed many odd things involving food. My Mother has this strange relationship with food. Almost like it was a prize she was trying to win at a carnival, but once she got the prize she would lock it away, and only take it out when she absolutely needed it. Food was almost taboo in our household. We would go to the grocery store and shop, but my Mother would buy the oddest things. Steaks, wine, ice, brandy, more steaks, and more wine. I think you get the picture here. I would ask for certain things, and she would say, "only with your Father," or "You can eat that junk when you're thirty. " Treats were never allowed, and if I had ice cream I would be told to go run around the block 5 or 6 times. I was eight years old when this first happened. I was a tiny child, born pre-maturely, I didn't have much weight on me. In fact, the doctors said I needed to eat more than the average child in order to grow properly. My parents divorced when I was four year old, but decided to keep their nightmare show on for years after. My Dad would get me on the weekends and would fill my backpack with cookies, cakes, and candy. I was fed cheeseburgers and milkshakes from the Palo Alto Creamery and I was allowed to drink soda. Years later he would tell me he regrets having fed me this way as a child and felt he was making up for something. Fast forward to me now entering my thirties and having struggled with food addiction, anorexia, and hating myself all before I turned eighteen.
Don't get this whole thing wrong, I was very loved growing up, my parents are good, decent people. They always made sure I had everything I needed, but because of my Mom I do feel I had a very strange relationship with food growing up. When I was ten-years-old, my Mother met a man at my dance class. His daughter was a friend of mine in the same class and my Mother and...will call him Charles, bonded over jazz and Tony Bennet. They got together fast and things became even stranger after that. They had a volatile relationship from the get-go and I as child witnessed things no 10-year-old should ever have to witness. I grew up very fast, and by the time I was thirteen I was bulimic, binging on food then throwing it up ten minutes later when I knew no one was around. It was a sick cycle of eating crap and then puking so hard afterwards that my inside's ached. Charles had very un-healthy relationship with food. He wouldn't let his kids eat anything that wasn't approved on first. No carbs, no sugar, nothing to drink except water, no meat, and so on and so on. His children were so terrified of messing up around him that I remember my step-sister cringing when we all sat down to dinner. Dinner which consisted of sprouts, carrots, and a tall glass of room temperature water. He would always tell us that having ice would kill our insides. I'm addicted to ice now, and I sometimes wonder if there is a connection between the two.
My Mother stayed with Charles because she felt she could do no better, that we could do no better. All the while, I was staying out late with my boyfriend, drinking, not eating, and basically doing everything I could to stay away from that house and to mask my pain. Charles and my Mother finally broke up for good, but it wasn't until years later when I turned nineteen and I was on my own. We endured years and years of abuse from Charles and there are some things I will never recover from. My Mother still has a weird relationship with food and when we go out to eat today she only nibbles and picks at her food, only pretending to eat the food on her plate. Growing up I remember my Grandmother would tell her how many calories each thing was that she was eating, so my weird relationship with food dates back generations. This was the complete opposite to my fathers side of the family who had no issues with food. Strong Italians who loved to eat and talk about the importance of family and food. I remember I preferred staying at my dad's side of the families house than my mom's. My dad's side was peaceful, loving, and had bread that I was allowed to eat without being told how many calories was in each slice. To this day, I can still smell that fresh bread wafting through my Grandma Mary's house.
In 2011 I had gotten so heavy that my doctor told me I could die if I didn't turn things around. I went from being a 120-pounds to 280 in what seemed like no time flat. My relationship with food turned deadly and things had to change. I remember going home that night feeling devastated, ashamed, and hating my parents. I hated my mother for putting me through this turmoil and turning me into a food addict. I hated my father for allowing my mother to torment me about food and make me feel worthless. The list goes on and on and up until that cold day in November, the cycle had too. I blamed my parents for my picking addiction and my inability to keep a boyfriend. I hated them for filing up head with useless lies and for making me feel un-loved. In retrospect I think the person I truly hated was myself, but at the time I was so angry it didn't matter. I needed someone to blame. After leaving the doctor's that November day and after days of thinking about all of it, I realized I was the one to blame. Yes, my parents instilled horrible habits in me, but at nineteen years old I let them stick. I let them take over my mind and consume me. Something needed to change. I joined a gym on my way home that night and stopped eating fast food. I quit making myself throw up, quit soda and ice cream and started drinking tons of water.
None of it was easy, but it was all necessary. I needed to change and I was the only person in charge of my own life. I lost the weight, quit the gym membership, and started working out at home filming my workout videos, learning about proper form, and teaching myself everything. I taught myself about clean eating, weight lifting, water intake, supplements, all of it. I became a different person and healed myself through food and exercise. Was it easy? Of course not, did I want to quit? Several times! I kept going and today I help others achieve their health and wellness goals and have a successful business and blog. I've lost 155-pounds and have kept it off. The journey has been challenging, but I've learned so much about myself and my threshold. There are days when those bad habits sneak back in, when the choice to drink the water or eat the slice of cake takes over, when the need to starve myself to prove a point leaves a lasting impression in my brain. When I have children of my own, especially when I have a little girl on my own, I want her to love herself. I want her know that eating food is healthy and needed and that leading a healthy lifestyle is essential to adopting a healthy mindset. I have a healthy relationship with food and I would consider myself a foodie. So much has changed for the better because of those experiences and I'm a stronger person today.
My parents are great people, they are genuinely decent human beings who did not grow up in the best environment's so their judgement is a bit clouded. My mother will always have a painful relationship with food that I have to battle it every time I see her. It's been a tough journey, but if you have a weird relationship with food I know what you are going through and I'm here for you.
Reach out to me any time with any questions, any thing at all. I'm here for you and you are loved.
Michelle Lee says
So proud of you!
Love this, thank you for sharing and congrats on changing your life in such profound ways. You are an inspiration and your future daughter will be so lucky to have you as a mom. <3